I'm honored to be included in this video about American Craft Week in Western North Carolina. Check it out and please share the Asheville fine craft love!
The Blue Ridge Mountain region surrounding Asheville, N.C. is rich with the handcraft traditions that have made the area into the arts destination it is today. Discover Western North Carolina's rich craft heritage, which goes back more than a century and continues to inform today's community of local artists. More at www.ExploreAsheville.com.
Produced by the Asheville Convention & Visitors Bureau and American Craft Week in Western North Carolina, with Jared Kay, Amplified Media. Support provided by the Asheville Area Arts Council and Asheville Art in the Park.
Feel free to check out more about my story as an artist.
One of the hottest buzzwords in the design community in 2015 is “modern rustic décor.” But to many designers and discerning homeowners, the term is much more than a buzzword or kitschy trend. Instead, modern rustic décor actually is a blend of two great design styles:
In Tune with the Times
Politically, modern and rustic fit like Facebook and the Sierra Club. Because one is natural and the other man-made, does not make them incompatible -- exactly the opposite. And so it goes with modern rustic décor. Take the best of both worlds and freely create a space in which you are comfortable. After all, the term “modern” also intimates individualism and creativity.
To that end, and to provide you with a few ideas of how to begin decorating your home, office or other living space with a modern rustic décor flavor, try a few of the following tips.
Windows Bring the Outside In
An open floor plan that’s surrounded by windows is one of the less expensive and certainly most natural forms you can use to bring nature into your modern space. Whether you are building a new home or renovating an older structure, add windows, big windows, on every wall. In addition to providing you with a view of nature, the lighting from the outdoors will provide each room with the true colors, shades and shadows of the outdoors.
A home in the woods obviously is ideally suited for a modern rustic décor makeover, but even urban dwellers can bring in the beauty of the seasons, the dawn and the dusk and the stormy and sunny skies that surround the dwelling. You may need to bring in a few more pieces of art and furniture made from natural materials to complete the look in the city, but that can make your project even more exciting – going on a hunt for the perfect rustic tones to add to your completely modern home.
Raw Exposure Time A hallmark of a modern rustic décor design is the lack of false covering over brick and wood. Exposed ceiling beams, red brick walls, stone fireplaces all fit lovingly in their au natural presence in the decorator’s theme. In many ways, modern rustic décor is a money-saver. Forget about the plaster and the paint, the carpeting and the coverings.
Talk to your builders about choosing only materials with naturally stunning finishes. Even laying off high-gloss varnishing gives a space a more rustic appeal. Go with natural fiber rugs and window treatments. Even marble table tops fit more majestically when the edges are hewn and rough.
Additions Come Easily
Not everyone is blessed with good bones, and the same goes for houses and buildings made for function. The great thing about modern rustic décor, however, is that you don’t have to have the large picture windows overlooking a mountainside, the beautiful beams in an oak a-frame or maple cabinets and floors to make your décor come alive with nature.
Attach beams to a white ceiling for a rustic ambience. Lay hand-woven rugs over tile or carpeting. Set large art pieces, such as beautiful sculptural baskets made by Matt Tommey using natural materials, in strategic corners. Lean towards large canvasses of wooded landscapes to cover the walls not plastered with large screen TVs and computer screens. The modern rustic décor bent will become obvious once you light the fire in your newly installed stand-alone firebox.
From Rustic to Modern
For many designers, it’s easier to add rustic to an already open floor plan made for the modern homeowner than it is to take a log cabin or mountain chalet and turn it into a thoroughly modern living space. Too often, the modern touches overshadow the rustic and leave it feeling like yesterday’s news. You can’t after all, take an old log cabin and bring in bright new lines of stark, clean furniture without disturbing the ambience of the ages.
Instead, bring the modern into the space in subtle movements. Allow the light to be suffused through modern shades and window treatments made of luminescent materials. Build speakers behind the beams so they don’t sit so obtrusively on nature’s shoulders, but rather complement the rustic with the best of the newer conveniences.
Look for modern appliances with wooden doors, set an intricately carved basket beside crystal candle holders and light them with the latest xenon bulbs for a cool, toned atmosphere. Build your clean-lined bookcases with natural oak and fill the shelves with your favorite flowers, since your books are snugly safe inside the electronic readers that sit on your raw wood nightstands.
The most excellent point of the modern rustic décor design trend is that there are very few rules. Your way is the right way. Bring nature into your modern living space just as easily as you can modernize your rustic abode. Use what’s in place beside what’s new. Commission a local artist to have his way with the natural surroundings at your home to create your very own rustic accents. Define your space with as many electronic devices as you need -- the slimmer the better, the sleeker the more defined the complement.
You don’t have to give up any of your electronic connections when you support an ecologically elegant lifestyle. The two are so intertwined now that they barely exist, one without the other. Instead, Mother Earth and Father Time have evolved and created sons and daughters who respect the planet while embracing invention and innovation. Modern rustic décor is as much a state of mind as it is a design style.
Today is my birthday and what a way to celebrate by coming home! I've just returned from an 8 day trip out west to teach basket weaving classes for the Columbia Basin Basketry Guild in Oregon and the Bay Area Basketmakers Guild in Berkeley, California. Although it was a long trip, I really enjoyed my time out there making new friends and teaching the techniques and materials I love.
Most of my favorite basketmakers are from the North West United States and include people like Katherine Lewis, Polly Adams Sutton, Judy Zugish and many others. Out there, most makers are really into natural materials like I am including cedar bark, kelp, sea grasses and lots of other really cool materials. That's absolutely not the case back east, so every time I go out west, I feel a real kinship to these makers.
My first set of classes was for the CBBG Retreat held at Camp Magruder in Rockaway Beach, Oregon, about 2 hours west of Portland right on the coast. In fact, every morning, I would walk down to the rocky coast to get my head together for the day. Each class had 12 students and the first day I taught a beginning twined vessel using kudzu, iris leaves and poplar bark. The next day we moved into more advanced techniques, exploring the "x" stitch with copper, mimosa, kudzu and poplar bark. On day 3, we ended up with a kudzu and poplar bark double walled pod. That was Thursday - Saturday.
Sunday morning I got up and drove all day long to explore the Oregon coast. Needless to say, it was fabulous! Here's some images below for you to enjoy.
Monday I did another fun thing for myself and ended up taking a one-on-one workshop with master bamboo artist, Charissa Brock. She was a protege of the famous Japanese bamboo master, Jiro Yonezawa and is really more of a sculptor than a weaver. Regardless, she showed me the ropes and helped me hone my skills.
Tuesday and Wednesday I ended my trip in Berkeley, California at The Caning Shop, teaching about 20 students who are all members of the Bay Area Basketmakers guild. I repeated the 2 advanced baskets from Oregon and again, had an incredible time. During my stay, I was lucky enough to stay at the beautiful Berkeley home of renowned fiber artist, Yoshiko Wada.
So, after a long trip, I hopped a redeye flight last night from San Francisco and ended up back here in Asheville at 9:15am. It was a very memorable trip and I'm so thankful to everyone who made it possible.
If you're interested in taking a basket weaving class from me, check out my class schedule. In addition, if you have a guild that would be interested in hosting me, I'd love to talk to you. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
It's always fun when you install a new fireplace wall hanging only to have your client say "That's beautiful, but now my dining table needs something!". Well, that's exactly what happened!
A couple of months back I created a beautiful wall hanging with 14 baskets and mountain laurel for one of my client's outdoor porch and now I've created this little gem to go with it in the same space. Now when friends and family enjoy a meal together on the outdoor porch, they'll be able to enjoy both of these pieces.
There's an added bonus too! These clients have a beautiful - I mean incredible - garden around their home and really enjoy fresh flowers. For this tabletop piece, I've fitted them with small, removable glass containers so they can add fresh, seasonal flowers from the garden on a regular basis. Since it's viewable from both sides, it will provide a lovely sculptural container that will enhance the whole room. How fun! PS: Don't worry, it's water resistant since I covered the pieces in encaustic wax and a good layer of polyurethene.
Find out more about how I could create something like this for your home!
You never know who you're going to meet at the Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands here in Asheville, NC. Our July show is always a fantastic opportunity to meet new and existing clients, show my newest work and talk about doing special, one-of-a-kind pieces for clients. That's how this project began.
After seeing one of my wall hangings at the Guild Fair, this couple - recently retired from Connecticut with a new home here and in West Palm Beach, Florida - asked me to come over and talk about creating a special piece for their outdoor fireplace. While there, I was invited downstairs to see an incredibly beautiful rock fireplace created in the style of the famous Grove Park Inn stonework. By the time our time together ended, I was asked to create 2 special pieces for their home, one for the outdoor fireplace and one for the downstairs fireplace
As with all my wall hangings, I begin by choosing just the right branches from which to sketch a design. With this project I created one that featured a series of copper botanicals for the outdoor porch and an asymmetrical design for the downstairs fireplace that rested on two rocks and featured two real bird nests. My clients approved the designs and I began work.
After several weeks of weaving, not to mention all the copper work and finishing, the pieces were completed. This Saturday, I delivered them to my clients and installed them in their forever homes. I just love seeing my work in the place that it was made for! There's nothing like it and experiencing the joy my clients feel when they see their new piece installed.
One last note... In this home, as with many of my clients, after the pieces were installed it becomes really apparent that focused, dedicated lighting is needed to accentuate the piece. That was the case here as well and so the electrician will be out soon to install some spotlights. Lighting is a small investment but makes a big impact!
Discover more about how I can create a special piece or collection for your home.
See more fireplace sculptures here!
Matt Tommey is a sculptural basketry artist working in Asheville, North Carolina's River Arts District.